Will Muschamp didn’t need to remind his players what happened the last time they played a game in Gainesville. Florida’s homecoming game against Missouri got out of hand quickly, spiraling out of control and ended with a 42-13 loss. The week before that, Florida dropped a 30-27 game to LSU after multiple mistakes.
Florida’s only home Southeastern Conference win this season game in a triple-overtime game against Kentucky, which looks worse as the Wildcats sputter down the stretch. The only impressive home performance this year came in the season opener against Eastern Michigan. The Gators started the season off with a 65-0 win in that game.
The Florida players feel like they owe the fans a better experience on Saturday that what they’ve recently shown in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
“We’re all about that and our fans do deserve something to cheer for at the Swamp,” Florida center Max Garcia said. “We’ve got to defend it. The Swamp is a place where other teams should fear coming into. Only Gators get out alive. We’ve got to make that happen again, we’ve got to take it back this game.
“Especially me being a senior, only being able to run out of that tunnel two more times, we know time’s running out and we only get so many opportunities. We’re extremely happy that we get this opportunity to take the Swamp back.”
The Gators feel like a different team from the last time they played in The Swamp. After that loss to Missouri, many expected Muschamp be fired in days after. If it didn’t happen then, it would surely happen after Florida lost to Georgia two weeks later.
Florida turned the script and blew Georgia out, and after winning at Vanderbilt last week, a win at home against South Carolina this week would be a big step in Muschamp keeping his job for next season.
The players have said they like Muschamp and want him to keep his job, but the head coach isn’t allowing that to become the motivation. He has been pounding into the minds of his players that they need to retake the home stadium for the fan base this weekend.
“The last time we were out there we got embarrassed and we don’t want to give that to our fans so we want to just go out there and play a great game for our fans. (The team has) always been tight, but since that Missouri game we really, really came together because we never want to put that on the field ever again.”
The Florida players want to bring The Swamp back to being one of the most feared stadiums in the country, and the fan base has a lot to do with that. The players want to win back the confidence of Florida fans, and they know an impressive performance against a 4-5 South Carolina team would be a good way to make it happen.
“We owe our fans one,” Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III said.